Thursday, January 12, 2017

Comprehensive Pre-K Program Shows Positive Child Outcomes

Children enrolled in ECEAP (state-funded preschool) are assessed three times during the school year to track their social-emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development and their early literacy and math skills. English language acquisition is tracked for children who speak a different language at home.

Photo taken at Tacoma Day (ECEAP site) 
in Tacoma, Washington.

How Washington measures kindergarten readiness

In Washington State, we rely on the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) for kindergarten readiness data.

WaKIDS is a process for:
  • Welcoming students and their families to kindergarten.
  • Assessing students’ strengths.
  • Discussing the characteristics of children’s development and learning what will enable them to be successful in school.
In the 2015‒16 school year, WaKIDS reached approximately 59,000 kindergartners and determined their skill set development in the six areas highlighted below.

While we can see that few children start their Pre-K year in ECEAP with kindergarten entry skills, at the end of one year of ECEAP, the percentage of ECEAP children with kindergarten entry skills exceeds the rate for all WaKIDS children and for low-income WaKIDS children. For the 124 children with two years of ECEAP, the results are remarkably higher.

Our state’s most at-risk children made progress in all six areas of development.

The following percentages of ECEAP children moved from “below age level” to “at or above age level” during their time in the state-funded program.
  • Social-emotional development – 41% 
    • Meaning the child can regulate his or her own emotions, establish and sustain positive relationships, participate cooperatively and constructively in group situations.
  • Physical development – 35% 
    • Children are measured on traveling, balancing, motor manipulative skills (e.g. reach with your hands) and fine-motor strength and coordination.
  • Language development – 35% 
    • The child listens to and understands increasingly complex information, uses language to express thoughts and needs and uses appropriate conversational and communication skills.
  • Cognitive development – 39%
    • Children demonstrate positive approaches to learning and use classification skills and understand the use of symbols or images to represent something not present.
  • Literacy development - 43%
    • The child shows phonetical awareness, knowledge of the alphabet and print, and comprehends and responds to books and other texts. This category also measures the child’s ability to explore writing.
  • Mathematics - 53%
    • Children use number concepts and operations, explore spatial relationships and shapes, compare and measure and demonstrate knowledge of patterns.
Beyond the six areas of skill and development, ECEAP offers an integrated pre-K experience, including support with health care and family engagement.

Healthy children are learning children

ECEAP staff work closely with families to establish medical and dental coverage and care.and mental health consultation (if needed).
  • At the time of enrollment only 56 percent of ECEAP children were up to date on their annual well-child medical exams. By the end of the year, 91 percent were on schedule.
  • When they enrolled in fall 2015, only 39 percent of ECEAP children were up to date with dental screenings. For children who attended ECEAP all school year, 94 percent had dental screenings and necessary follow-up treatment. Dental cavities are the single most common disease of childhood.
ECEAP parent voice:
“One of my girls is a darling special needs kiddo and with that comes some big frustrations for me. One area that was difficult for years was brushing her teeth. When she started ECEAP, the teachers were focused on health and nutrition and made time every day to practice brushing teeth with all the kids. It did not take long before she was tolerating a brush in her mouth and now she actually enjoys having them brushed.”

Family first

Family engagement is an essential component of ECEAP comprehensive services. It includes individualized family support services: working with families to increase their economic security as well as providing referrals and community resources, opportunities to volunteer in the classroom, parent education, and parent leadership development activities.

One ECEAP site had a “Daddy and Me” event for the families. The Family Support Specialist recaps:
“I got home about a half hour ago from an amazing night. There were so many dads and papas who came with their kiddos. One teacher volunteered for the whole event. I asked boys to introduce me to their dads and gave them the words to say. Every dad who was introduced just beamed. Quite possibly the most heartwarming thing was that an elderly man came with the boy he’s been bringing to school every day. He brought the boy’s dad who is blind, and none of us were aware of this. They are friends from their church. The elderly man gently guided the dad in, helped the little boy with activities while dad was by his side, and brought the dad his dinner. ECEAP is truly a community program!”
In the 2015-16 school year, ECEAP implemented two new initiatives geared toward family support. Please look for more information about Families Moving Forward or check out the Family Support Pilot blogpost here: ECEAP Family Support Pilot.

To read the entire report, go here: 2015-16 ECEAP Outcomes Report. For more information about ECEAP, visit

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